Adrian Tinniswood

More than Hooks and Parrots

Treasure Neverland: Real and Imaginary Pirates

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Halfway through The Maltese Falcon, the villainous Kasper Gutman introduces Sam Spade to the convoluted history of the titular jewelled bird, explaining how it was captured from the Knights of Malta in the 16th century by corsairs and taken to Algiers, only to be stolen a hundred years later by Sir Francis Verney, ‘the English adventurer who was with the Algerian buccaneers for a while’. The pirate took his prize to Sicily, the Fat Man tells Spade, and there it disappeared. ‘It’s pretty certain that Sir Francis didn’t have the bird when he died in a Messina hospital in 1615.’ 

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